Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Message in a Toddler: Today's Reminder That All is Not Lost

The last two days have been... shall we say... awful.

So far it has been one of those bad-Mama-weeks where everyone is cranky, nobody naps, nothing gets done and I begin to doubt my sanity and faith in humanity.

I always find on days like these, that God sends me sweet, little messages of hope and encouragement, usually by way of precious Bennett (in-between whines, time-outs and meltdowns, of course). Here's one from today. It came just in time: right before I was about to drink 5 cups of coffee, eat frosting out of the tub and cry my eyes out. It might not sound like much to you... unless all you've listened to for the past 72 hours is a whining 3 year old and a screaming baby. Only then, can you probably appreciate how this sweet little moment changed my perspective today.

It happened during breakfast this morning...

Bennett HATES eating. We all know that. Therefore, I dread mealtimes. Whining ensues, discipline abounds, nerves are frazzled. How many times must I say the words, "STAY IN YOUR CHAIR!" before they sink in? So this was how my morning was spent, doing everything I could to stay positive and make eating oatmeal fun! But try as I did, we had several "time-out-for-getting-off-our-chair" situations.

Enter Diego. Bennett has this toy called "Diego Knows Your Name." It is programed with a timer, and at certain times in the day, Diego will just randomly call out things like: "It's time to sleep, Bennett! Animal Rescuers need lots of rest. Good night, Bennett!"

Bennett has been getting really irritated with this toy lately. He doens't like Diego's assertiveness or his suggested activities. He'll say things back like, "No De-go! I'm not tired!"

Then this morning, right after I told Bennett to get back into his chair for the 5 bazillionth time, at a moment when we were both pretty testy, Diego chimed in from the other room:
"Come on, Bennett! Al Rescate! To the Resuce!"

Bennett turned to the toy and said in a very firm voice, "No De-go! I eating breakfast right now, and I do not want another time out!" He said it with such conviction, all I could do was laugh. I had to stop right there and applaud my little man for not giving into "peer pressure."

Even though my mealtime-ettiquette training hasn't quite sunk in yet, this little event got me thinking that other things are sinking in. Like doing the right thing even when your friends (or demanding action-figures) tell you not to. There is hope. All my work is not in vain. And that little reassurance was all I needed to put the frosting tub down and keep on keepin' on.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Love You a Bushel and a Peck: Apple Pickin'

As a part of September's apple theme, McPreachy and I took the kids apple pickin' on Monday!

Here's Bennett on the way there:

We drove to Julian, a quaint, old town surrounded by U-pick apple orchards. First we ate lunch (and apple pie, of course) in one of Julian's fine eateries.

Mmmm.... apple pie... delicious

Mallory is such a sweetie-pie (Hah! Get it?!)

Bennett was excited about the boot-shaped water glasses.

I love my precious boy and his little puppy-dog eyes!

Then it was off to Peacefield Orchard where we picked a peck and a half! (say that fives times fast!)

Doesn't Mallory look like a nun with the blanket over her head like that?! It was very sunny, and we can't have our princess getting too much sun!

Apple pickin' (notice that I refuse to say "picking"... it must be said with a twang!) was especially fun for Bennett because for the last week or so I have been teaching him about Johnny Appleseed. He was so excited to pick apples just like Johnny.
Benny Appleseed

Mallie even joined in the fun!

Here's Bennett hugging the sweet man who owned the orchard. They were fast friends.

Our booty:

Johnny Appleseed Jr. couldn't wait to dig in!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wookie Cookies: My New Favorite Cookbook

Oh. My. Gosh.

I just discovered the most darling, creative, clever cookbook. If you have a child, you absolutely must buy it. It is called Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis.

I happened upon this gem while seeking out giveaway books for my MOPS group. Our theme this year is "Planet Mom," and we've been doin' it Star Wars-style (by that, I of course mean that I got up in front of the whole church wearing my Princess Leia costume.)

Anyway, I was searching for outer space books, and up pops this little ditty. I purchased it right away, and as soon as it arrived yesterday, I immediately sat down and read through every recipe. (Am I the only geeky little home-maker in the world who just loves to sit and read recipes? I almost go into cardiac arrest from excitement when my Martha Stewart Everyday Food comes in the mail!)

This cookbook, intended for cooking with your kids AND getting them to eat their veggies, is SO DARN CLEVER! Here are just a few of the witty recipe names: Hoth Chocolate. Tusken Raider Taters, Greedo's Burritos, Han-burgers, Boba Fett-uccine and of course the inspiration for the book's title, Wookie Cookies. Bennett and I whipped up some of these out of this world treats (pun intended) just hours after the cookbook arrived, and they are pretty darn delicious! I highly advise making your own Wookie Cookies and not trying to steal them from a Wookie, as Wookies are known to tear poeple's arms off when they get mad...

Here's the recipe.
May the Fat be With You...

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Baby Boy is Three: How Did That Happen?

Bennett turned three years old yesterday. Sniff, Sniff, Weep. Shhhh.... if you listen closely enough, you can hear my heart breaking.

How did he become a big boy so fast? In the last year, he has gone from saying things like "Whassa name?" (What's his name?) to saying "Hi, I'm Bennett. What's your name?" He's gone from sitting in a high chair to sitting in a big boy chair. From sleeping in a crib to sleeping in a big boy bed. From diapers to big boy underwear. I just can't believe how much he's grown up this year and how quickly he has gone from baby to big boy.
This year was the first year that Bennett really understood about his birthday, and he's been excited about it for a while. So of course I figured it was the perfect year to start some... you guessed it... birthday traditions!

The first tradition is that Bennett got to pick anything he wanted for all three meals on his birthday.

For breakfast he chose a bagel and a smoothie. What he doesn't know is that I snuck broccoli into the smoothie! Haha!

For lunch he chose corn dogs. I'd never made them before, but they came out delicious and were surprisingly easy to make! Here's the great recipe I used!
*note: I cut out the bacon and blue cheese for Bennett and just made them plain.

And see... it was so worth the effort! Look how super excited he is about the special birthday lunch his Mama made for him!

Notice that the first thing he did was eat the breading right off the dog... Carb lovers of the world, unite!

For dinner he chose mac-n-cheese.

(No picture... mac and cheese is not that exciting...)

Then he got to participate in another birthday tradition that Neil and I have been doing for a while. For his birthday cake, he got to pick any cake out of Mama's special cake cookbook. (Note: this tradition will be especially fun when Neil and the kids are in charge of making Mama's birthday cake!)

Of course, he wanted to help me make the cake...

Here he is with batter all over his face...

Here's the cake about to go in the oven:

And here's the finished product:

For Bennett's birthday gift, we got him his first trike or "bicycle" as he likes to call it. Here's it is adorned with balloons.

Of course when he saw it, he cared much more about the balloons than the bike Daddy went to go get the night before at 9:30 and spent all night putting together... (McPreachy is such a great daddy!) But as soon as he got over the initial excitement from the balloons, he realized he had a bike of his very own, and he rode it around and rang the bell all day long.
Here are a few precious shots of the birthday boy on his new trike.

Bennett also got some new paints for his birthday to go with his easel. Here he is painting.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September: Apple Month

For the last 6 months, I have been bombarded with questions about Bennett going to pre-school. At first, it kind of took me off guard because he still seems like my baby, and it's heartbreaking to think about him going off to school. But more than that, pre-school just hadn't occured to me yet, which is definitely NOT the norm where I live. I live in a place where parents literally camp out overnight to get their child into the "right" pre-school, which (if you ask me) is just a little over the top when it comes to a place where my child will mostly be digging in dirt, eating paste and drinking apple juice. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about pre-school, but to me this just seems a little bit overboard.

All this to say that we decided not to send Bennett to pre-school this fall since he'll be so newly 3. Instead I will be taking him to a few fun programs during the week (Awana, Community Bible Study, MOPS, Sunday School, Library Story Time), and then on the days we are home, we have been doing "school time." Bennett LOVES school time. He, (like his BFF, Nate) loves structure, and school time is right up his alley.

And because I LOVE themes so much, I have decided to pick a theme for each month and really explore that topic during school time. September is apple month, and I'm so excited to do lots of fun, apple-themed crafts and activities!

Like today, for instance...

We painted a picture of apples in a variety of colors! Don't you just love the marker on Bennett's face? (And the fact that he is still in his PJ's?)

Some other apple-themed activities I've got up my Mama-sleeve are:

  • Taking the kids to pick apples in Julian
  • Going to the library and checking out books about apples
  • Watching a video about Johnny Appleseed
  • Making applesauce
  • Baking an apple pie
  • Taste-testing different varieties of apples (Green, Red, McIntosh, etc.)
  • Making an Apple stamp craft (maybe we will use this bag for apple picking!)
  • Planting apple seeds and seeing if they grow... (my guess is not, if Bennett has inherited my black thumb... but we shall see!)
  • Making Caramel Apples

If you have any other apple-inspired ideas for me, please do tell!

I'll report back at the end of September with pictures of all our apple-inspired fun!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hot Mama: The Five Beauty Products You Just Can't Live Without

So out of the five of you who read my blog, those of you who know me really well know how addicted I am to beauty products. My bathroom sink used to be so full of lotions and beauty hullabaloo that you couldn't open the cupboard door without all of it falling out. My Mom has had to drag me out of Sephora many a time. I could stay in there all day looking at and trying on every single lip gloss, perfume, eye cream and eyeshadow. In fact, just last night, my sister-in-law had to keep dragging me away from the cosmetics sections of Target and Kohls. She wanted to try on shoes and dresses, but all I wanted to try on was a new lip gloss.

But for a girl who loves beauty products SO much, my daily makeup routine is actually pretty simple. Of course, I love to glam it up for party time, but on a day-to-day basis, I like to keep things more natural and clean looking. Plus, most days I hardly have time to brush my teeth, let alone (in the words of my Grandma) "put my face on."

My makeup motto is: "If it takes you longer than 10 minutes to put your makeup on, you're not doing it right." I might just be full of hot air, but I'm pretty sure a makeup artist told me that once. Either way, the moral of the story is this: keep your daily makeup routine simple, don't cake it on. Makeup is supposed to accentuate what God gave ya, not hide it!

These are the 5 beauty products I wear every day that I simply cannot live without. Try them... they will change your life.

1. Benetint by Benefit

This is hands-down the best beauty product ever made. I use it every day on my cheeks and lips. It gives a very natural-looking flush to your cheeks, so you look naturally rosy. This way, when you forget your son's shoes, no one can tell you're blushing.

2. Bare Minerals Foundation

I don't care what foundation you're currently using, this is better. You might as well just switch right now.

3. Mac Paints in Bare Canvas

This puppy just about changed my life. I used to live a sad existence where my eyeshadow ALWAYS creased no matter what I did. Then I discovered this miraculous product. As the name suggests, I just paint it on my eyelids in a very thin layer. Now I have... wait for it... a bare canvas on which I can put any eyeshadow I darn-well please! And the best part is, it will stay on all day and will not, under any circumstances, even think of creasing! For a natural, day-time look, try using bare canvas and then layering on Stila eye shadows in kitten and twig.

4. Ooh La Lift by Benefit

Oh my gosh, I love this! This is like 8 hours of sleep in a tube AND it keeps your concealer from creasing (Why is my makeup always creasing? I must be well-hydrated) AND it has a cute name. What more could you want in a beauty product? After you apply concealer under your eyes, (which, if you are a mother, you are most assuredly doing on a daily basis) just dot Ooh La Lift under your eyes and dab gently until absorbed. This will take away that "I just put concealer on, and now I have raccoon eyes" look and set your concealer in place in one fell swoop. Need I say more?

5. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara+ Eyelash Curler of your choice

Even when I'm keeping things natural, I curl my eyelashes and wear mascara every day. I've found that nice, batt-able lashes can get you out of a slew of predicaments! A makeup artist once told me that good old Maybelline great lash was the best mascara out there, and I couldn't agree more. Why spend 20 bucks on fancy schmancy mascara when this one works just as good? And make sure you curl those lashes! In my humble opinion, curled lashes are monumental in the fight against looking tired.

Honorable Mention: If you want to go the extra beauty mile, two more of my favorites are Stila Lip Glaze in Vanilla for the lips (layered over your Benetint, of course) and Benefit High Beam for the cheekbones .

So there you have it, my favorite beauty products. If you have a favorite product, please do tell. My makeup bag is always open to trying new things!